DIGRESSION

DIGRESSON

Playwriting has changed so much because of the Web.

As writers, we are far less isolated than we were before we went online. As a result of these blogs alone, we have a support system.

It was encouraging for me to read about Erica Bennett’s production difficulties because I had a similar devastating time with a play of mine. It felt good to know that I was not alone and might not have failed as completely as I thought I had.

We’re part of a community. We might not meet each other in person but can connect with other playwrights in a flash. Through different lists, we can meet playwrights all over the world. We may not be able to see their productions, but we can probably see clips on youtube and stills on their webpages.

Researching is different, too. We can go online and worlds open up in a morning. Today, I was looking up 1908 bathing suits and came across an article about Annette Kellerman, a swimmer who was arrested in 1909 for wearing a one piece form fitting bathing suit that exposed her arms and legs. Her story held me and I thought….”Well, I wonder if there’s a play in that?”

The Web changed how I felt about my writing. I remember working on a play years ago about women’s suffrage, researching in a reference library, reading big volumes of history and peering cross-eyed at miles of microfilm. I felt rather special, not of the common run, a feeling that sitting at the computer doesn’t encourage. That’s probably a damned good thing. (The library is still a great draw, and nothing beats sitting at a big tables with the light coming in through big windows.)

It’s not just research. Making music and working with a composer has completely changed. The piano is an accessory and the composer sets up his keyboard on a table, puts on his earphones and taps away. He or she sends out the finished song or piece to the playwright by email, ready for downloading to a CD. The actors and singers can learn the piece at home and come in to rehearsal off book and off song.

The high tech is terrific, but means nothing if we don’t sit down and say what we have to say, of course. And while I’m procrastinating, I’m going to read Sara Israel’s recommendation, No Tricks In My Pocket: Paul Newman Directs, and look at Krapp’s Last Tape, just to find out about that banana business.

1 Comment

  • By Robin Byrd, July 18, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

    Isolated but not completely alone… And, yes, Library tables are the best. I was just in the New York Public Library last month; it does give one a sense of accomplishment. Love your thoughts.

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